The Amazon Go supermarket is nearly ready to open

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It’s been nearly a year since Amazon Go was revealed. It’s a cashierless shop without checkouts where customers just check in as they enter. They fill a bag or basket with what they want to buy and leave. There’s no need to queue up and pay. The price of the goods is deducted automatically from the buyer’s Amazon account.

And now it looks like the flagship 1800 square foot outlet for Amazon Go in downtown Seattle is nearly ready to open. When first tested earlier in the year, the gadgetry and wizardry that told the store that you’d removed goods from the shelves and were taking them away wasn’t totally effective.

In particular, the various sensors and detectors that noted when things had been taken from the shelves, and then perhaps put back, were not accurate enough and there were wrinkles in the charges. It seems like most of these problems have now been ironed out.

Over the past few months Amazon employees have been attempting to test the system and ensure it is robust and reports suggest that it is close to being ready for the buying public to shop in. Apparently one of the tests involved staff dressing up in yellow pikachu costumes to try and fool the technology but that ploy was ineffective. One problem does remain though. The system finds it tricky to accurately bill people when they buy in groups.

Obviously the unstaffed supermarket as a concept has the potential to be hugely disruptive to the retail industry. But what isn’t known is anything about the cost of creating this technology and what the expense might be to stock out a store with it in the future. Obviously this is the first store to experiment with it and the ticket price will be huge. That will come down over time but will it really be cheaper than self-service checkouts?

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